Eagles Wake-Up Call: Ertz’s Elusive Breakout Year

Zach Ertz. (Jeff Fusco)

Zach Ertz. (Jeff Fusco)

Zach Ertz rolled his eyes and sighed, slightly irritated by yet another question about “breaking out.”

Do you think you’ll finally do so this year? What’s held you back in the past? What would that mean to you?

“Going to the playoffs? I don’t know. Y’all define that,” Ertz said. “I mean, I go out there and do the best I can each and every day. I’m not focused on ‘breaking out,’ I’m focused on being the best I can for my teammates. Catching as many balls [and] making as many good blocks as I possibly can.” Read more »

Eagles All-22 Wake-Up Call: The Texas Concept

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Sitting at a table full of Eagles beat reporters at the owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., Doug Pederson‘s voice heightened more than an hour into the session when he was asked if he’d use Zach Ertz similar to how the Chiefs deployed Travis Kelce.

“Yeah, I do. And I’m glad you brought that up, because I like our tight ends. I like our athleticism there. It’s a good group — great group,” Pederson said three months ago. “The primary tight end, Zach, is athletic [and] young. He’s like Brent [Celek] was when he first came in and a lot like Travis Kelce that way.”

When Pederson called plays for Kansas City last season, he often attempted to get Kelce the ball down the middle of the field on seam-type routes. One West Coast offense staple he liked to use was the Texas concept, which accounted for a few of the Chiefs’ big plays. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Ranking the Assets

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

For your mailbag question to be considered, complete the form at the bottom of this post.

How do you rank the top longterm players on the Eagles? -Terry

NFL teams unexpectedly cut and trade players all of the time, but one thing Howie Roseman has brought to the Eagles this offseason — at least for the near future — is clarity. By giving out twice as much guaranteed money as any other team since the beginning of the calendar year, it’s clear who the team values and wants to build around.

But one of the biggest question marks with Roseman has never been his salary cap management — it’s talent evaluation. So this is an interesting mailbag question to consider, and although the Eagles made a big trade to acquire a guy they think could be a franchise quarterback, they are building around a core group of players who went 7-9 last year and were on a team which often appeared worse than their record suggested.

Is that a nucleus you can win a Super Bowl with? Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Strengthening the Core

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Howie Roseman retold the Fletcher Cox draft story Thursday. About how they had a trade worked out with Seattle to move up from 15 to 12 if one of their targets happened to still be on the board; that they never anticipated one of those primary targets — Cox — to actually last that long; and how a last-second offer forced them to contemplate their chosen course of action.

“When he got to 12 and we were ready to make the pick, we had agreed on the trade, and then we got a call from another team offering us to move back for a future one,” said Roseman. “And so we just kind of took a minute and just thought about Fletcher and what we projected him to be. And if he was that, how would we get that guy again? And all around the room, everyone agreed that to get a 6-4, 310-pound guy, 35-inch arms, powerful, athletic, great character, we’d have to pick in the Top-5 — 21 years old. For us, even if that future one was a 12 or 13 or 14, we thought it was a unique opportunity that we were able to get that kind of guy, so we just kind of made the pick.”

Roseman called it “one of my favorite stories that we’ve had here.” And no wonder: it’s a triumphant tale involving the single-best pick he’s ever made. Chances are, he’s got some good ones about Vinny Curry and Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson as well.

The key thing, as we work to make sense of the decision to pour $143 million of guarantees into those four players, is the very fact that there are stories to tell. Read more »

Weekend Reading: Doug Pederson’s Impact

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Here’s this weekend’s roundup of the national stories about the Eagles:

In his first year as head coach, Doug Pederson‘s leadership and philosophy is impacting the team, Michael Silver from NFL.com reports.

The way Pederson navigated the controversy, ultimately bringing [Sam] Bradford back into the fold as his presumptive No. 1 quarterback with no apparent hard feelings and minimal internal drama, tells us a lot about the 48-year-old rookie head coach’s forthright, guileless and — thus far, at least — well-received leadership style. Yet if Pederson had been completely honest, his response to Bradford’s trade demand might well have been reduced to two words of unambiguous awesomeness.

Child please. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Dark Horses And Disappointments

Leodis McKelvin. (Jeff Fusco)

Leodis McKelvin. (Jeff Fusco)

For your mailbag question to be considered, complete the form at the bottom of this post.

Any dark horse players you see having a big year? Any front runners having a down year? -Frank H.

I’m very curious to see how Jordan Hicks plays this season. I don’t think he’ll play poorly, but I could see him disappointing people after his impressive six-game stretch last season when he started after Kiko Alonso went down during Week 2. I expect him to be a good linebacker for the Eagles long term, but he has very little experience and will have more on his shoulders as the guy who will register a huge number of snaps as the MIKE in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3. Read more »

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